82. My dad would sometimes go on a diet just to be difficult. One Christmas Day he announced that he wasn’t eating meat anymore when the turkey arrived on the table. I remember it well. Mum said “Do you still eat fish?” and when he said yes she went and put a fish pie in the microwave without missing a beat.

When he got cancer he staved it off for years through diet. He ate nothing, and drank supplements and juices. Carrot and Apple in the mornings and “Green Juice” the rest of the day, which was a foul mash up of all sorts of green veg. He sloughed off weight, but it did seem to prolong his life. In the last few months he went back to eating mutton pies and chicken soup and the cancer went back to eating him.

His bookshelf was filled with well thumbed books along the lines of “Fit for Life.” When we ate meat at the table he’d sometimes make the noises of the animal we were eating. “baa baa I’m a little laaamb where’s my mummy?” No wonder I was a voracious carnivore for so many years. That sort of behaviour is only going to inure you to the reality of being a carnivore.

Now, consciously or unconsciously, I’ve started to emulate dad with his fads. At the moment I’m restricting my food intake massively, partly because I haven’t been paid yet. It’s cheaper if you just eat veg and don’t have coffee or alcohol. And partly because I want to clean my insides up a bit. I want to be generally a bit more careful about what I put into myself. I’m sure it can be done without breaking the bank. It’s difficult though.

Last night I did a table read for a feature film based on The Pardoner’s Tale, which is probably the most nihilistic of The Canterbury Tales. It’s the right month for it. The pilgrimage takes place in April. In the tale three friends kill each other over money. It’s interesting to think how the film would play in this climate. Right now “He’s a businessman, he’ll make the country money” is considered by some to be justification to have let an egomaniac get his tiny hands on the helm of the free world. The script was great – a sort of Yorkshire Shallow Grave. Dark but funny. After the reading, as is usually the case, the actors went to the pub with the director. I hate being in a pub right now. Half my focus is on the bar, running interference on the little voice saying “Just a small glass will be fine.” So I made my excuses after a single soda water and it was only after I exited that I realised I hadn’t taken anyone’s number, which is the usual ritual after a couple of pints. Oh well.

So that’s an issue. I need to remember how to be sober in a pub.

This evening I cooked a cauliflower steak, because it’s called steak but isn’t. Here’s a photo as once again I took no photos today.


It didn’t taste like steak. It tasted like cauliflower. I was disappointed. I’m not sure I’m cut out for this vegan stuff. A friend of mine wanted help gutting a fish on Facebook and I was immediately on a video call so I could talk her through it. I could gut it by proxy. It’s almost the same! Turns out they’d already gutted it in the shop. She hadn’t unwrapped it yet because she was a little freaked out by its eyes. She sent me pictures of it cooked. I wanted its flesh.

I’ve spent years getting good at cooking meaty things. “I am in so far in blood that to go back were as tedious as go o’er.” But is that flawed thinking?

Maybe it’s alright to let go of that and learn to cook kick ass veggie food. I was talking today about the weight of the past. About how we can drag our history around with us for reasons we don’t fully understand, and gather up piles and piles of sentimental crap that does nothing but suck our present into it. When I was in LA I felt free of all that weight. Now here in this flat I can sense things around me leeching energy with their memories. It’s past time to begin the process that severs me from this flat, so I can run around in the hills and laugh and sing without a ball and chain.

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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